From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for March 2014

Washington Nationals home opener weather forecast

April 3, 2014 - 03:00 PM
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The Washington Nationals play their first home game against the Atlanta Braves this Friday at 1:05pm. Clouds are definitely in the forecast as well as a slight chance for showers ahead of a cold front. The temperature forecast is looking a bit more on the cool side as easterly winds are expected to keep them down, but it should still be a comfortable day at the park.

Temperatures appear like they will be mild, with our forecast high for the D.C. Metro right around 60 degrees. The boundary will be right around our region, and model guidance depicts areas to the north in the 50s and areas just to the south such as Fredericksburg, VA in the 70s!

Winds should be out of the east around 5 to 10 mph and as far as precipitation, an isolated shower isn't out of the question but there should definitely not be a rain-out or rain delay. If something changes, Jacqui Jeras and Eileen Whelan will be all over it tomorrow morning on Good Morning Washington as well as Brian van de Graaff on Newschannel 8, so tune in!

Forecast surface temperatures from the 12Z ECMWF model for Friday at game time (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

If you are planning to go to the weekend games, the forecast is for plenty of sunshine each day with highs in the low to mid 60s. Saturday will be breezy at times which will make it feel a little cooler, though by the 7pm start, winds should begin to settle down a touch.

Recommendations:

If it's in the 60s, jeans and a t-shirt are looking like they way to go. As of now I would plan on bringing a jacket as I don't think the brats and beers will do the job alone while you're sitting in the stands.

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Spring weather: March madness and april showers

April 1, 2014 - 05:00 AM
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Goodbye and good riddance, March! It has been a cool and snowy month for sure. March roared in like a lion and has exited… well, kind of like a lamb if we don’t count Sunday's weather. Today’s sunshine and 60 degree temperatures are nothing to complain about after the past four weeks.

 

(March 2014)

 

March 2014 will go down as the 5th snowiest on record in Washington, D.C. We had measurable snow every week, except the 9th-15th, bringing the monthly total to 12.7” at Reagan National. That's 11.4” above average! Dulles topped the old record and had the snowiest March ever recorded with 19.8”. If you thought it was a cold month, you are correct. The average temperature was 42.5 degrees. That is about 4 degrees below average. Our warmest day was on the 22nd with 73 degrees. And the chilliest temperature was 14 on the 4th.

Does a snowy March equate into a snowy April? Not necessarily. And, climate is on our side for this one. Washington, D.C. records a trace of snow or more only once in every ten years. And, since 1888, only nine Aprils have recorded an inch or more of snow. So, chances are that we won’t see much if any. The latest measurable snow on record in D.C. was on April 28th with .5” on the ground in 1898. April is usually a month of rain. 

 

(April Climatology)

 

On average, 3.06” of rain can be expected over the month. Average high temperatures start at 62 on the 1st and rise to 71 degrees on the 30th. Average lows are all above freezing, starting with 42 on the 1st and 52 to end the month.

But, we know climatology and actual weather is different, right?  So, what does the start of April look like? 

 

 

(6-10 Day Outlook, NOAA)

 

Near average this week, but the latest outlook for April 5th-9th is slightly cool once again. 

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Spring Showers Bring Cherry Blossom Flowers

March 28, 2014 - 09:52 AM
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It finally feels like spring.  Temperatures are warming up, but just as temperatures climb, clouds and showers move in.  An approaching cold front will keep rain in the forecast through the rest of the day and through much of the weekend. 

Flooding may also be a concern tomorrow with over one inch of rain possible.  An area of low pressure will develop along the front and will bring pockets of rain to the area tomorrow. 

Weather Prediction Center

The Weather Predicition Center has much of the ABC7 and NewsChannel8 viewing area under a "Slight" risk of excessive rainfall, which could lead to flash flood concerns. 

Weather Prediction Center

Unfortunately, this soggy weekend comes during the Cherry Blossom festival.  The Blossom Kite Festival is happening this weekend at the Washington Monument from 10am through 4:30pm.  Originally, the kite festival was to be held Saturday; however, due to inclement weather the kite festival will happen on Sunday. 

Sunday's weather will still be unsettled with lingering showers and gusty winds, but Saturday looks more like a washout.  Check out forecast rainfall accumulations through Sunday midday.

Local Computer Simulation

The heavy rain, falling on top of already saturated ground, could cause localized flooding, so be cautious of standing water.  On a more positive note, the rain and warmer temperatures are furthering the blossoming of the cherry blossoms. 

The cherry blossoms are now in stage two where the florets are visible.  Here's a picture of the buds I took this morning.

The National Park Service forecasts the cherry blossoms to be in full bloom between April 8th and April 12th.  The average peak bloom date is between the last week of March and the first week of April.  The blossoms are little behind schedule, but hopefully, with more spring-like temperatures in the forecast, the spectacular bloom will be worth the wait. 

Stay updated with the weather forecast through the weekend with the StormWatch7 weather team.  ABC7's Steve Rudin and Dave Zahrern will update our StormWatch7 weather page, Facebook, and Twitter feeds with all the information you need to know.

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50th Anniversary of the largest U.S. Quake in recorded history

March 27, 2014 - 08:05 AM
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The tweet above is what triggered me to write this blog. It's hard to believe that the 2nd largest earthquake since 1900 was located in Alaska. The only one larger was in 1960 in Chile at 9.5 magnitude.

Our area has recent experience with earthquakes, with Virginia's 5.8 magnitude earthquake in 2011, but historical information shows that the 2011 quake wasn't the only strong one felt in our area over the past couple hundred years.

More earthquake information for the state of Virginia can be found here

Largest Earthquakes since 1900 (Courtesy: USGS)

The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program has just about every kind of resource on the 1964 quake. Everything from survivor stories, to pictures and videos can be found there as well.

Related: National Tsunami Warning Center

As this is is the tail end of Tsunami Awareness Week, much has been shared over the past week on social media of what a tsunami is, where the high risk areas are, what is the difference between a tsunami watch, warning and advisory, and historical information.

As recent powerful earthquakes and resulting tsunami's in 2004 and 2011 acting as reminders, the White House sent out a message to be prepared, as warning information has greatly improved over the past 50 years.

Although they're not as common on the East Coast, tsunamis still occur, although the highest likelihood in the Atlantic is in the Caribbean. There is a higher risk on the west coast and on the islands that dot the Pacific. In fact, the 1964 Alaska Earthquake resulted in 122 deaths from the tsunami and nine from the earthquake itself. The Great Alaska Shakeout Drill will take place at 1:36pm today.

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Powerful Atlantic Storm Getting Stronger

March 26, 2014 - 07:44 AM
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A storm, equatable to a hurricane, is paralleling the East coast and headed towards the Canadian Maritimes.  Check out this incredible streamline map that shows the tight circulation surrounding the deepening low.  As of 8:30am, the pressure has dropped to 963mb.

Cameron Beccario - Creator of earth.nullschool.net.


That pressure drop was 50 mb in just 24 hours. It's more that double the rate needed to be defined as a "cyclone bomb."

Here's another view of the storm from the GOES East satellite.  It is a classic cyclone.  Notice the comma shape on the right side of this image.

NOAA GOES

And this visible satellite image shows the center of the storm along with snow cover here in Washington, D.C.



Visible Satellite 8:30 a.m.

To be clear, this Northeastern powerhouse storm is the same one that brought us 1-4" of snow yesterday.  New England's coast is catching the brunt of the storm right now.  Blizzard warnings are in effect for Cape Cod and coastal Maine.  Heavy, blowing snow will reduce visibilities to less than a quarter mile.   Winds will gust between 70-80mph along the coast.  Hurricane force wind warnings are in effect off Cape Cod (mauve color).  You could coin this a "snowicane!"

NWS Boston / Taunton, MA

To get a sense of what this looks like, check out this video from Chatham, MA. 

As of 8:30am Wednesday, a 78 mph wind gust was reported at Nantucket, MA. Heavy snow continues to fall along the coast.

Wave heights have exceeded 8.5ft in Nantucket. The wind is pushing the water onto shore, so coastal flooding is another concern, along with the snow and damaging wind gusts.  Snowfall totals close to a foot are expected in the blizzard warned areas on the cape. But there is a very sharp gradient between getting clobbered by this storm and getting off easy.  Roughly 50 miles away in Boston, just an inch of snow is expected at most.

Fortunately, this epic storm is far enough offshore the most severe impacts are only felt along the extreme coast of New England.  Nova Scotia, Canada will get hit hardest. The rest of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are being impacted with gusty winds.  As high pressure moves in from the west, the pressure gradient between the high and low create windy weather in our area.


This is an epic storm and proves the sheer strength and power of weather. Thanks to Jacqui Jeras for some editing and adding to this blog post.

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Say it ain't snow! Wintry weather in D.C. Tuesday

March 24, 2014 - 08:09 AM
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Enough already! That seems to be the shared sentiment of many after quite a cold and snowy winter in the Nation's Capital. 

Tuesday's snow should be light. The good news is, this late in March, the high sun angle will warm surface temperatures, so not much snow will stick. The roadways will likely be mainly wet, but between one and two inches may accumulate on the grass. Here are a few bullet points of what you can expect tomorrow.

The snow comes as the southern and northern jet stream phase together.  An area of low pressure will develop off the coast of Florida tonight.  The deepening low will track far enough off the East coast that impacts to our area will be minimal. The low will intensify rapidly, 'bombing' out by tomorrow afternoon. The pressure will drop almost 50mb in less than a 36-hour time period. Bombogenesis is a term used when the barometric pressure drops 24 (or more) millibars in a 24 hour period. This is what the strengthening storm looks like.
(ADDS - Aviation Digital Data Service)
(ADDS - Aviation Digital Data Services)

Since the storm will pass far enough offshore, we'll be spared from heavy snowfall.  Snowfall totals will be less than two inches.  The Weather Prediction Center's probability of snowfall greater than two inches in D.C. is 60%, but I think that would be the highest snow would accumulate. Again, the ground and surface temperatures will be above freezing.

(Weather Prediction Center)

The bigger story this week will be the whipping winds on Wednesday, as the intensifying low pulls off the New England coast. Winds will gust to around 40 miles per hour at times on Wednesday. With temperatures only in the low 40s, it will feel like the 20s and 30s. Highs will rebound into the 60s by Friday. 

So is this our last hurrah of winter weather? My gut says yes! I hope I'm right!

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Eastern U.S. Winter: Snowy & Cold

March 23, 2014 - 06:25 PM
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Snow plows, snow blowers and shovels were hard at work this winter in the East. Almost every major Interstate 95 city had above-average snowfall through mid-March. Below is a list of the major cities and seasonal snowfall departures.

snowdepartures

The excessive snowfall and active pattern have helped contain moisture at the surface. As of the end of February, soil moisture was 20 to 40% above average in the Washington area.

soilmoisture

Spring is typically a volatile time of the year because gusty winds and sunshine can quickly dry out the top soil resulting in high fire danger. The active pattern will help curb the fire danger a notch on dry days going through early spring.

The constant barrage of cold blasts has also chilled the soil. As a matter of fact, top soil temperatures are 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit colder than average in the Washington area. The cold departure is much more significant from the Northern Tier into the Southern Plains. Here, top soil temperatures are more than 10 degrees below average..

snowdepartures

The cold surface will delay the growing season a bit and is responsible for the later than average peak bloom of the cherry blossoms in Washington.

Fortunately, drought isn’t on the horizon across the D.C. area through the start of summer. A high pressure ridge that has kept the West dry is the area most susceptible to more significant precipitation departures. Meanwhile, drought will likely get washed away in the Central Plains and Midwest as seen below.

droughtoutlook

For more on your day-to-day forecast, click here.

 

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Awfully Cold and Snowy for Blossoms

March 19, 2014 - 04:30 AM
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Spring arrives on Thursday and thus the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  The National Park Service recently released the forecast for peak blooms and expects the magic 70% mark to arrive April 8-12th.  THIS is what the blossoms looked like Monday morning:

 

Monday Morning, Tidal Basin (Photo: John Gonzalez)

ABC7's John Gonzalez snapped the photo in-between his live reports on Good Morning Washington on Monday during the storm. Makes a strong statement, doesn't it?

The wild winter weather has many wondering if our recent cold temperatures and snow will push that peak date back, self included. The day before our 5-10" of snow, on March 16th, the NPS reported the Cherry Blossom status as "Green." This is the latest we've seen the green buds in  ten years! We usually see green anytime from Mid February-Early March.  So, we're a little late there. However, if you take a look back a decade to 2003 when the green emerged appropriately on St. Patrick's Day, the peak bloom ended up on April 2nd. So, it's still possible to stay on forecast pace. You can watch the progress on this live camera for yourself.

 

Past Peak Dates (National Park Service)

 

Last year the peak bloom was April 9th. And in 2012, we peaked much earlier on March 20th. For a list of bloom times dating back to 1992, click here.  

NPS admits it's difficult to predict the peak with accuracy more than 10 days out, so stay tuned for changes. The blooms are most affected by extreme cold and extreme heat. Once they start opening, concerns lead to wind and rain that could knock the blooms down. If we take a look ahead as to what could impact the lovely cherries in the next few weeks in the forecast, we have a variety of ups and downs. The temperature forecast is below average again for next week with the potential for freezing conditions. 

Cooler than Average Temps Next Week (NOAA)

A few weather forecast models, including the GFS, are also hinting at the potential for more snow in the forecast for the middle of next week. 


GFS Computer Model Tuesday, March 25th (GFS)

Only time will tell.  My money is on a later bloom date.

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Record Breaking White St. Patrick's Day Storm

March 17, 2014 - 09:39 AM
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Photo Taken by Russ Adams, Alexandria, VA

 

Preliminary Snow Totals

 

So far in Washington, D.C. we've had 7.2" of snow and at Dulles it is 10". Those numbers are collective from the snow that started Sunday evening and continues this morning.  Daily records were broken both days at Dulles, and just today at DCA.  It's pretty rare that we get this much snow this late in the season.  We've now reached 11" of snow at Reagan National for the month.  That puts us in the top ten of snowiest Marches on record (ties for number 8). 

 

Snowiest March on Record

 

In addition it is a top ten snow "event" for the month, beating out the Superstorm of 1993 that had 6.6". Thanks to the fine folks at The Capital Weather Gang for that last nugget. And, if that is not impressive enough, for the season, we've doubled the average snowfall and have now topped 30" in D.C. since October!   If you look at climatology, March 17-31st brings .2" of snow on average in D.C. and .9" at Dulles. So, if we consider that alone, chances are pretty good that this will be the last hurrah of the season. 


Forecast Temperature Departure March 22-26th

However, if we look at the medium range models, below average temperatures are expected to continue (don't pinch me on this St. Patrick's Day), so there are no guarantees.  Although a nice brief warm up in the 50s and 60s are in the forecast to end this week! :) 

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D.C. Snowstorm; Mid March snow to cause delays Monday morning

March 17, 2014 - 07:30 AM
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CLOSINGS DOPPLER  |  WARNING  |  STORMWATCH FB

Send any pictures to iwitness@wjla.com or tweet them to @alexliggitt @abc7brian, @eileenabc7 on twitter.

 

9:19am:  Record breaking snow at the major airports this St. Patrick's Day. 

10.0" at Dulles  Old Record 1.9" 1965

7.9" at BWI  Old Record  5.0" 1931

7.2" at DCA    Old Record: 1.9" 1965

8.0" at NWS Leesburg office

8.2" at NWS College Park

9:00am:

8:23am:  St. Patrick's Day snow (and March snow, in general) is not uncommon.  Last year, on March 25th, DCA recieved 1.4" of snow.   It was 75 and sunny on St. Patrick's Day 2 years ago (2012).

8:12am:   Seeing more black pavement, but with temperatures below freezing it may be icy.  Be safe & travel with added caution. 


7:25am:  Most of the snow is over... for now.  Another mini wave will move in from the southwest and will bring additional, light snow showers/flurries late this morning.  No additional accumulation expected.  

7:00am:

6:49am:

 

6:16am: 

5:47am:  Live Doppler showing snow tapering off west of D.C.  Snow showers will end from west to east. 


5:14am:  Snow lapering off in Loudoun county.  12 inches reported in Ashburn, VA via Clint.

4:52am:  Preliminary snow totals, so far.  Please share your snow totals & location with us. 


4:47am:

4:37am:  The federal government is closed today, Monday, March 17th, along with many other school districts.  Click on the link at the top of this blog for the full list.

12:13am: The HRRR Model is depicting the heavier snow bands really dwindling by the morning rush hour, not that there will be much of a morning rush with the number of closures. It appears by 4am or 5am, snow will begin to fall at a lighter rate.

12:11am: Here are the latest snowfall totals in the area sent in to NWS Baltimore Washington.

11:40pm: Moderate snow continues to fall in Fairfax County and roads have become covered with an inch to two inches of snow as of 11:30pm. Here's a quick video of some of the road conditions on Gallows Rd. about a mile north of Fairfax Hospital.

10:47pm: A few moderate to heavy snow bands will continue to move north, with snowfall rates of an inch per hour or higher in isolated spots. Road conditions will continue to deteriorate overnight so don't go out if you don't have to.

10:29pm: The winner so far has been Warren County, VA, where Meteorologist Mike Stinneford is reporting 6" of snow 5 miles west of Front Royal.

Many areas in Montgomery and Loudoun Counties are reporting over 2 inches of snow.

Latest snowfall report from the NWS can be found here.

10:23pm: Chris from Leesburg, VA is reporting snow sticking to the roadways there now too.

10:10pm: The Dulles Greenway is reporting 3.5" of snow in Ashburn, VA but plows are out!

10:04pm: Randy Benn shared another shot from Aldie, VA where snow is now sticking to the side roads.

9:54pm: As of 9:50pm, snow is beginning to stick on some of the sheltered side roads in the Mosaic District after I didn't see anything sticking on my way home 20 minutes ago.

9:45pm: On the way home from the office I stopped by Luther Jackson MS in Fairfax by Merrifield and took this video. Pretty nice snow rates!

8:35pm: Snow is coming down fast in Aldie, VA in Loudoun County in this tweet from Randy Benn.

8:30pm: ABC 7's Tom Roussey is out with the latest tonight at 11pm. Jay Korff is also out near Manassas. They will have the latest from the field tonight at 11pm. Meteorologist Steve Rudin will be in the weather center letting you know the latest on where the snow is, how much has already fallen, and if there is anything different to expect by Monday morning.

7:52pm: Closing in on 3 inches west of Front Royal along the Blue Ridge.

7:49pm: At least VDOT seems to have things under control tonight! I noticed at least 10 plows heading in to work this afternoon and I only live about 10 miles away from the station.

7:39pm: A moderate to heavy snow band is setting up right in line with the D.C. Metro. This band extends west to Prince William, Loudoun all the way to the Appalachian Mountains. Snowfall rates of 1" per hour (with isolated heavier rates within) will be possible in this band.

NWS Sterling, VA Doppler radar as of 7:35pm

6:48pm: Checking out some of the traffic cameras before sunset I haven't seen any snow sticking to the main thoroughfares. This may not be the same for side roads but for the most part roadways are wet, not white. This is expected to change overnight.

6:31pm: Even with only light snow falling across the area, accidents are possible as roadways become slick rather quickly. It may take a little longer closer to the D.C. Metro, but areas west of the Blue Ridge have already become slippery. Here is an accident along I-81. Be careful out there tonight, take it slow!

6:21pm: Here are the latest temperatures and dew points as of 6pm this evening. Temperatures have dropped into the 30s through much of the region, including 32 in Gaithersburg, 33 at Dulles and 30 west of the Blue Ridge in Winchester and Martinsburg. It's still in the lower 40s in the immediate D.C. Metro.


6:04pm: I might as well put these snow pictures in now before nightfall! This is in Loudoun County where a dusting has already fallen.

5:52pm: Meteorologist Mike Stinneford is already seeing light snow pile up outside his home west of Front Royal.

5:44pm: Temperatures are falling into the 30s through much of the region as the column saturates above the surface. Light snow is being reported across the area but road temperatures are still in the 40s per the Maryland State Highway Administration webpage.

5:10pm: Snow is beginning to fall across the D.C. area and will pick up in intensity heading into the evening and overnight hours. At this point, the heaviest snow is expected to fall between 10pm and 7am. The highest snowfall totals are still expected to be south and west of D.C. over the higher elevations of the mountains, but heavy snow is still possible in and around the D.C. Metro with areas up to 5" in the immediate Metro and 4" to 7" possible south of town. Lesser amounts will fall farther north to the Mason-Dixon line. Here is our latest snowfall forecast.

Snowfall Prediction through Monday

 

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Winter Storm Warning for the D.C. area tonight into Monday

March 16, 2014 - 07:53 AM
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DOPPLER  |  CLOSINGS  |  WARNINGS  |  STORMWATCH FACEBOOK

Send any pictures to iwitness@wjla.com!

Another winter storm is headed towards the D.C. area today, bringing the chance for snow starting late this afternoon and evening and ending Monday afternoon. Snow looks like it will enter the region between 5pm and 8pm from southwest to northeast. Even though temperatures will be well above freezing this afternoon, it should rapidly cool as precipitation enters as evaporational cooling takes over.

Winter Storm Warning from 7pm tonight through 2pm Monday

There is a slight chance for a start as rain but atmospheric profiles suggest colder air will be in place aloft, so even if it does start as a few showers, it should change to snow rather quickly. Snow should continue to fall through the night and into Monday morning, with the heaviest falling between 8pm and 2am.

0Z ECMWF Forecast Accumulated Snowfall

Right now, it looks like the heaviest snow will fall over the mountains southwest of D.C., closer to Luray, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and Staunton in Virginia. Moderate snowfall totals are possible in the D.C. Metro itself, and less is likely the farther north you are to the Mason-Dixon line. This explains why areas north of D.C. area in a Winter Weather Advisory and areas in the Metro and south are in a Winter Storm Warning.

Snowfall accumulations will be anywhere from a few inches north and west of D.C. in the Advisory area, to 2-5 inches in the D.C. Metro, to 4-8 inches south and west of D.C. over the mountains. Just enough to make for a sloppy morning commute.

With temperatures in the mid 40s this afternoon for high temperatures, roadways will be well above freezing once precipitation starts, so roadways should mainly be wet until snowfall rates increase. Area roadways to the north where less snow is expected may even stay wet, which I don't think anyone will be complaining about!

A number of delays and closings will still be likely tomorrow so be sure to check our closings page often above. Snow should come to an end by Monday afternoon. Both Tuesday and Wednesday should see temperatures back into the 40s, so melting should get underway rather quickly with the high March sun angle.

Tune in to ABC 7 News and Newschannel 8 tonight for the latest updates!

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Snow possible late Sunday into Monday in the D.C. area

March 14, 2014 - 09:00 AM
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At this point in time on Friday morning, just about every model run is depicting a storm developing in the southern Plains and pushing east into the Mid-Atlantic by Sunday. Today and Saturday should be fantastic, so enjoy the mild temperatures around 60 degrees and plenty of sunshine. By Sunday, changes will be likely.

The tweet above shows what the Weather Prediction Center's chances of 4" or more of snow falling in the next 72 hours in the D.C. area. This is sitting between 50-80% for parts of the region. While, 4" is possible, predicting exact snowfall amounts at this current time is very difficult.

What kind of set up?

Conditions are definitely favorable for wintry precipitation across the D.C. area. At least PARTS of the D.C. area, as a Miller Type B pattern cyclogenesis sets up with the primary area of low pressure moving into the Appalachians and a new area of low pressure developing along the North Carolina coastline by early Monday morning.

The problem is there is the potential for a warm layer aloft in areas, particularly south and east of D.C. Some guidance even places the warm layer farther north into the D.C. Metro, mixing in sleet and possibly freezing rain to the region. The majority of the modeling depicts snow beginning after sunset Sunday and continuing through Monday. Here are some of the latest soundings from @AdamCaskey on Twitter.

High pressure located over the Midwest and Northeast will help push cooler air into the region starting Sunday and continuing through the storm. The problem is, there is no real arctic air source. This isn't like the last winter scenario where D.C. dropped 40 degrees and rain changed to snow with no problem.

Our in-house RPM model depicting snow for the majority of the area by Sunday night

Precipitation is expected to start as rain late in the day before changing to snow overnight. Snow is expected to be the predominant precipitation type Sunday night into the day Monday, with high temperatures Monday only in the 30s.

Questions to be answered

This does lead to some thoughts about how warm it will be Sunday. If temperatures reach the mid 40s Sunday, road temperatures will be closer to the upper 40s or 50s, thus harder for snow to accumulate. There is also a considerable amount of salt and sand down on the roads, and if it doesn't rain heavily on Sunday prior to the changeover to snow, this should also help limit accumulations on the roads.

Another factor is temperatures themselves. If lows only fall into the low 30s Sunday night, roads may not be that bad. We would have to get some pretty high snow rates for it to overcome melting on the roadways.

Finally, there's also the thought of how far north the precipitation shield will be and how far north the rain-snow line will be. This will have major implications on where the heaviest snow will be. Adam Caskey displayed this graphic above via Twitter of the different 500mb Vorticity Plots. It basically is showing where the main troughing and energy is located between the models. For instance, the GFS is much farther south than the NAM, which is allowing for more colder air and thus more snow. Still a lot of time to go with this system.

Current thoughts

As of now, the best chance for snow appears to be west of D.C. over the higher elevations in the mountains, such as the Blue Ridge and Appalachians. I additionally think there is a better chance for snow northwest of D.C. than the D.C. Metro.

The lower chances for snow exist in the southern portions of the viewing area such as Stafford and Fredericksburg east to Southern Maryland. Regardless, delays and cancellations will be possible Monday morning, so be prepared.

We'll surely have more updates this weekend. Until then, enjoy the warmer weather while it lasts!

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Spring Swings and Storms

March 12, 2014 - 04:47 AM
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March roared in like a lion with our winter snow storm just a week ago, and now we are finally seeing those warm spring temperatures.  We hit 60 degrees or better the last 3 out of 4 days. Today will top the 60 degree mark as well. The wild roller coaster of temperatures continues this week.

 

(This week's temps)

Thanks to Brian Van de Graff for the nice graphic.  Whenever we get such dramatic changes in temperatures we have to start looking at other things in the atmosphere that could trigger severe thunderstorms. If you live in Virginia, you may have heard the tornado sirens going off Tuesday morning.  It was part of a statewide drill to help everyone prepare and plan for spring storms. More in Eileen's blog from yesterday.  There is a slight chance that those sirens will go off for real later today as a strong line of thunderstorms moves through the Mid-Atlantic. 


(Wednesday Afternoon)

The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted our area for the possible threat of damaging winds associated with those storms this afternoon/evening. An isolated tornado cannot be ruled out either.  Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. is the most likely time for severe storms.

(Severe Weather Outlook - Storm Prediction Center)

An intense area of low pressure will move just to our north, and will help draw very warm air ahead of it and very cold air in behind it.  Today in the warm sector, our high temperatures will be in the mid 60s to lower 70s.

(Forecast Highs Today)

On the flip side, temperatures drop more than 40 degrees after the front passes with Thursday morning lows in the 20s.  D.C. will only warm into the mid 30s on Thursday afternoon, but winds will make it feel like 20s most of the day.

(European Computer Model Temperatures)

Winds will be strong out of the Northwest tonight and Thursday and gusts may reach 40mph, possibly more in the Potomac Highlands. This may result in minor tree damage, and you definitely want to bring the kids toys indoors and any lightweight lawn furniture you may have been enjoying the past few days. A wind advisory is in effect from 6pm until 11am on Thursday.

(Futurecast Winds)

Thankfully, it will be a quick hit of cold, and we will start recovering already on Friday with highs back into the 50s.

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Virginia Statewide Tornado Drill

March 11, 2014 - 05:13 AM
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It's that time of year. Longer duration of daylight, warmer days, and severe weather. So, what is your plan if a tornado warning was issued in your area?

Join over one million Virginians participating in a state-wide tornado drill at 9:45am this morning. The Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service join together to promote a Weather Ready Nation.

At 9:45am, NOAA Weather Radio will broadcast a test warning from the National Weather Service. Broadcast media, local television and radio stations, will alert the public to the test warning. At that time, the public is asked to practice tornado safety and take cover in an interior room; basement, closet until the tornado drill has ended.

It is important to remember that tornadoes can happen at any time of year and at any time of day. Tornadoes are most common during late spring and early fall when there are drastic changes in temperature over a relatively short distance. Notice the spike in U.S. tornado frequency in May.

NOAA

67 tornadoes have struck Virginia in the last three years, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100. One of those tornadoes touched down in Chantilly, VA on March 10, 2011. It was a weak, EF0 tornado with max wind speeds of 65 mph, but it still caused damage to trees and roofs, as the tornado traveled 4.5 miles. For more archived tornadoes click here. By practicing and preparing today for severe weather. you can stay safer in the event that severe weather threatens. 

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Chin up, it's bound to get warmer this month

March 4, 2014 - 03:21 PM
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I have heard a number of complaints about this winter being too cold, having too much snow and questions about when it will end. My answer, not soon enough. I'm tired of it too, so I decided to make myself happy and look at some of the seasonal data over the past 5 March months dating from 2009 to 2013.

Graphic from the NWS Baltimore Washington Office

After experiencing record cold temperatures last night, that doesn't necessarily mean this will continue to be a cold month, or even a colder than average month. Remember, the average high at the beginning of March is in the 50s and by the end it's in the low 60s, so while the region was over 20 degrees off the pace on Tuesday, it's going to feel amazing once it gets back to the seasonal average this weekend.

Number of days at 60°F or higher in March from 2009-2013

Take a look at the past 5 years. I put this graphic together to show you the number of days that recorded temperatures at 60°F or higher at Reagan National Airport. 2011 recorded 7 days at 60°F or higher, with the highest temperature recorded for the month at 80°F. After the past 48 hours, I could deal with that.

Even 2009, which started eerily similar to this March with 5.5" of snow and temperatures in the teens recorded 8 days with highs at 60°F or better. Four of those days were 70°F or higher! March 2009 was colder than normal for the month, but throw in a few 60 and 70 degree days and I think we can deal with that.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't look to March 2012 as the baseline. With 23 days at or above 60°F, 13 days at or above 70°F and 4 days at or above 80°F, the month wound up 10 degrees above average, and was the warmest March on record. Oddly enough, March 2012 was so warm it tied the average April monthly temperature!

Even if it doesn't warm up considerably in the next week or two (which it isn't forecast to), you still have a few things to look forward to. First off, we Spring Forward this Sunday, so the sun will be setting after 7pm. So long sun glare on our commutes home!

Cherry Blossoms April 10th of 2013

Then of course, Spring begins on March 20th. Finally, Cherry Blossoms are right around the corner! The forecast for the peak bloom is on the 4th of April, so you can add that to your countdown list.

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March brings record breaking cold

March 4, 2014 - 10:26 AM
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A bitter blast of winter hit D.C. hard Monday and Tuesday with a fresh coating of snow and bitter cold temperatures. We woke up to a range of 3-9" of snow across the region. Here's a look at the snow cover in the Mid-Atlantic.

 

(Snow Depth- NOAA)

 

With a blanket of snow on the ground, it acts like a refrigerator and keeps us cold. Snow has very high albedo, a measure of reflectivity. As the sun shines down on earth, the snow is an efficient reflector and  much of the energy "bounces" back into space preventing us from warming up much.

(Graphic: CoCoRaHS)

 

The effect is a lot like wearing white clothing in the summer versus a black outfit. Which would you be more comfortable in? Black absorbs the sun's energy (I plan to wear black the rest of the week, BTW... haha). So, with nothing but white on the ground, temperatures dropped to all time record lows this morning.  

 

(Tuesday Morning Low Temperatures)

 

Dulles dropped to -1 degree which is not only a daily record, but also ties the coldest temperature ever recorded in the month of March. The old record was set March 15, 1993. 

 

(March 4th Record Lows)

 

Baltimore Washington International Airport broke both records with a low temperature of 4 degrees. The old record there was 5 degrees set on March 4, 1873. Washington, D.C. did not set a record with the low temperature of 14 degrees at Reagan National Airport (D.C.'s official measuring location), but it is the lowest temperature ever recorded in March since the station was moved from it's downtown location in 1945, according to the National Weather Service.

The good news is that today will be the coldest of the week and we will slowly warm up into the weekend.  However, as we take a peek at next week.....


(Temperature Departure Forecast Next Week)

Not exactly what many of us wanted to see.

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Washington D.C. winter storm

March 3, 2014 - 04:45 PM
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DOPPLER RADAR | CLOSINGS | STORMWATCH FACEBOOK | APP

Please send your pictures to iwitness@wjla.com or share them on our Facebook Page.

4:45pm: The snow has come to an end and most warnings have been cancelled. Thank you for reading our live blog, this will be our last post.

3:00pm: The Winter Storm Warning has been cancelled for the District and surrounding counties. Southern Maryland (Calvert, St. Mary's and Charles counties) and will likely be dropped early this evening. Temperatures will continue to fall with overnight single digits lower teens.

12:46pm: One last moderate snow band will push through the D.C. Metro over the next hour and a half. Snowfall rates in this band are around an inch per hour with isolated rates to two inches per hour.

11:46am: Meteorologist Mike Stinneford is reporting around 6 inches at his house around Front Royal, VA.

11:40am: And then you see this... A tractor trailer flipped on its side on Route 50 in MD. Yikes!

11:35am: This is always promising...

11:31am: This gives you a pretty good idea of what your car windshield looks like if you haven't been outside yet. Mine just happened to be coated with ice too.

11:23am: Here is the latest link to the NWS snowfall reports below. The highest total so far looks like Frederick, MD at 7". Most other locations are 3-5" thus far.

Latest Snowfall Reports

11:17am: Driving conditions are quite hazardous across the area. I almost spun out going 5 mph, though my car is terrible in the snow. Regardless, I wouldn't recommend going out there in a vehicle! This shot was taken by WUSA 9's Peggy Fox.

11:00am: Here's a nice picture from one of my old college friends of the snow drifting on the roof of his building in NW D.C.

10:48am: I just headed outside to check on my car parked outside out station as we were told we could move it into the garage and the doors were frozen shut.

I basically was trying my hardest not to rip the handle off the door and eventually managed to pry it open. There is a coating of ice on everything and snow on top, making for very slick conditions not only on my car but also on the roadway. I could actually see a layer of ice beneath the snow as I was walking down the street.

My best advice is to stay home and don't go driving anywhere! I think delays and closings will definitely be the case tomorrow as well since temperatures should be in the teens all night. I'm not sure the road crews will have an easy time clearing prior to the morning commute. Have fun out there today and be safe! - Alex

9:52am: Here's our old colleague retired Meteorologist Bob Ryan's permanent snowman in his backyard, getting a little more snow for the end of the season.

9:47am: Interesting tweet from Reagan National Airport stating no planes have operated from that location today. Makes sense since our building is right in the flightpath and I haven't heard one all day!

9:43am:

9:37am: Chills are down into the single digits with temperatures in the teens to lower 20s and winds at 10-15 mph gusting to 25 mph. Adam Caskey reported 3.25" just north of Ballston in Arlington, VA. Please tweet me or share on Facebook your snowfall totals! Thank you!

9:26am: Stormscan is showing the extent of the snow as of 9am. Areas of moderate snow continue to fall across the D.C. Metro and will do so through Noon. Heaviest snow is south and east of D.C. right now.

Snow will taper off by the early afternoon north and west of D.C. and closer to 3pm around the D.C. Metro. Highest totals still appear like they will be realized south of D.C.

8:49am: Not only have flights been affected but trains have been cancelled as well today. Here's a photo from Union Station.

8:45am: Be sure to check out our HD WeatherBug cameras through the day. WeatherBug actually just tweeted an interesting fact! Just four months away from the 4th of July!

8:36am: The record snowfall for this date at Reagan National Airport is 7.1" set in 1960. As of 7am, the airport has only recorded 0.6", but I'm certain there's well over an inch at the airport at this point.

This actually makes for 20" of snow for the year at Reagan, which has only happened 5 of the past 30 years. Make that 6 out of 31 years!

8:30am: Oddly enough Dulles Airport is still open, at least the runways are, although many flights are cancelled. The airport still announced via twitter that many international flights will still be scheduled today.

8:00AM Update:

Snow Totals:

BWI: 1.4"

Frederick, MD: 4.0"

New Market, MD - 3.0"

Damascus, MD - 4.0"

Germantown, MD - 3.0"

Alexandria, VA 1.1"

Winchester, VA: 2.5"

Vienna, VA 2.0"

Ashburn, VA 2.0"

 

 

7:00am Update: 

7:00AM Snow Totals:

Germantown, MD-2.5"
Leesburg, VA-2.0"
Stephens City, VA-2.4"
Herndon, VA - 1.0"
Rockville, MD - 1.2"

 

6:45am Update:

 

ZZZZZ
ZZZZZ

6:15am Update:

The snow/ice line continues to push south through the region. All snow as we continue into the post-dawn hours.

ZZZZZ

Check out http://www.wjla.com/weather/radar/ to see what is happening at your house

5:00am Update:  Snow totals across the area

...BALTIMORE COUNTY...
2 NW LONG GREEN 1.0 300 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER
REISTERSTOWN 1.0 157 AM 3/03 NWS EMPLOYEE

...BALTIMORE CITY...
2 ESE ARLINGTON 1.0 230 AM 3/03 BROADCAST MEDIA
2 E ARLINGTON 0.1 315 AM 3/03 BROADCAST MEDIA

...CARROLL COUNTY...
3 SE WINFIELD 2.0 535 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER

...FREDERICK COUNTY...
2 SSW MARSTON 1.0 115 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER
3 NW FREDERICK 0.8 100 AM 3/03 NWS EMPLOYEE

...HARFORD COUNTY...
WHITEFORD 1.0 318 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER
BEL AIR 0.5 313 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER

...MONTGOMERY COUNTY...
1 N GERMANTOWN 2.5 435 AM 3/03 BROADCAST MEDIA
ROCKVILLE 1.2 515 AM 3/03 COCORAHS
CLARKSBURG 0.1 215 AM 3/03 BROADCAST MEDIA

...WASHINGTON COUNTY...
1 E HAGERSTOWN 0.5 330 AM 3/03 BROADCAST MEDIA

VIRGINIA

...FAIRFAX COUNTY...
1 NNE HERNDON 1.0 520 AM 3/03 NWS EMPLOYEE

...FREDERICK COUNTY...
2 E STEPHENS CITY 0.9 415 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...LOUDOUN COUNTY...
1 N LEESBURG 2.0 546 AM 3/03 TRAINED SPOTTER

 

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Another winter storm for the Washington D.C. area

March 2, 2014 - 05:11 PM
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Temperatures have crashed from the 50s and 60s into the 40s and 30s across the region as of 5pm this evening. As we head later into the overnight hours, enough cold air will filter in that precipitation will change to freezing rain and sleet before finally changing to snow in the early morning hours.

Temperatures as of 5pm

At this time, it appears the changeover to freezing rain and sleet will occur first north of D.C. closer to 10pm and the D.C. Metro by 11pm or Midnight. Looking at some of the latest models, light sleet may accumulate for a few hours before a changeover to snow by 4-5am in the D.C. Metro. The change will continue by 6-7am south of D.C.

HRRR Forecast Composite Reflectivity for 1am Monday (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

The heaviest snowfall accumulations should occur from 7am through Noon, with the potential for snowfall rates of 1-2" per hour. So when you wake up tomorrow and do not see very much snow on the ground, don't be shocked. There will still be plenty of slick spots with sleet and light snow through the early morning, so major travel disruptions are likely. Temperatures should be in the 20s by sunrise tomorrow.

Snow should hang around through the early afternoon before exiting by the early evening. By the time this system departs, we think a general 4" to 6" of snow will be possible in the D.C. Metro and points north to the Mason-Dixon line. South of D.C., higher amounts are possible, with 6" to 10" as our range in those locations. Isolated spots may even see higher amounts.

Snowfall Potential through Monday Afternoon

The 4" to 6" range in the Metro and points north seems plausible given higher precipitation totals as of late have shifted south of D.C. It appears some of the heavier precipitation will enter areas such as Culpeper, east to Fredericksburg/Stafford and Southern Maryland. This is where we have set of the 6" to 10" zone. Our thought is that plenty of cold air will be available when the heaviest precipitation enters the region.

Something to note, however, is if that band shifts a mere 30 miles to the north, the Metro could receive some of the higher totals. This is something we will be watching very closely as the system evolves.

There is also the potential for sleet to hang around a little longer, which could potentially hamper snowfall accumulations. This will be something else we will be keeping in mind.

Regardless, this is a high impact event with travel disruptions and plenty of cancellations.

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Latest update on the potential for a winter storm

March 1, 2014 - 11:26 AM
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The National Weather Service has upgraded Sunday's forecast to a Winter Storm Warning, in effect from midnight Monday through 6 p.m. Monday evening.

The storm is expected to start later on Sunday with freezing rain, then sleet, before changing to heavy snow overnight. According to ABC 7/WTOP Weather Center, the latest rate of precipitation is 5 to 10 inches. There's a good possibility that some spots will see more than 8 inches of snow and possibly over a foot in some of the area.

 


 


 

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